Sioux Falls, SD

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As our time on the road started to wind down, we decided to spend a couple of days in Sioux Falls before heading back towards Texas.  A well-known landmark was on the way to Sioux Falls and we just had to stop to see what it was all about.  The Wall Drug Store is a humongous Store with advertising for miles before you reach it.  The whole town has embraced the fame of Wall Drug Store and there are stores all around the drug store!

The Sioux Falls are beautiful, you really need to see them to appreciate them!!

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If you get to Sioux Falls, make sure that you stop by and see the SS South Dakota Memorial.  It is an unusual and unique memorial that takes pieces salvaged from the SS South Dakota and laid out on the grounds in the shape of the ship.

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We took another road trip into Minnesota since we were so close!


South Dakota Sights

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The first thing I think of when I hear someone talking about South Dakota is Mount Rushmore.  I have seen so many pictures of Mount Rushmore, it really gets built up in your mind as a massive landmark.  I am not saying it is not awe inspiring to see our former Presidents immortalized in stone, especially after hearing the story of how it was accomplished!  But, on the other hand, you expect this massive mountain with our Presidents faces on it when you arrive at Mount Rushmore and it does disappoint a little in that respect.  Putting that initial disappointment aside, if you take the time to walk under the Presidents and visit the museum and all of the other buildings on the property, you can recapture that enthusiasm for Mount Rushmore.  It is a wonderful part of our country’s history and really is a must see location.

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A second landmark, that we really had not known too much about before planning our trip to South Dakota, is the Crazy Horse Memorial.  This Memorial has the “WOW” factor you are expecting.  To get a perspective on its size, when you see the white line that is outlining the head of the horse, that white line is 6 feet wide.  We paid extra to be driven up as close as we were allowed to get to the Memorial.  Our perspective changed from a side view to a frontal view of Crazy Horse.  It was so impressive, even the pictures do not do it justice.  The museum had so much history on how this monument came into being and also of Korczazk Ziolkowski, the sculptor, and his wife, Ruth.  Before heading to South Dakota, please look at the Crazy Horse Memorial website for special dates and activities. DSCF2823 DSCF2824 

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Another activity that we always plan for is to ride any trains that are in the area of our trips.  There is an 1880 Steam Train that runs between Hill City and Keystone.  We first drove to Hill City, but would have to wait 2 1/2 hours before being able to ride the train, so we decided to drive to Keystone and catch the afternoon train from there.  It would truly be worth the pre-planning to purchase the tickets ahead of time by visiting their website! While we waited, we went to the Big Thunder Gold Mine to pan for gold.  This was a fun experience as long as you are not expecting to hit it rich, definitely a tourist activity!  We decided to walk down the main street for tourists and checked out the souvenir shops, the candy shop, and the different options to eat lunch.  Arriving at the train depot, we bought some t-shirts and waited for the arrival of the train.  After boarding, with the option of open air or enclosed train cars (we chose the enclosed because of the cool air), we started our ride to Hill City, which took 1 hour.  We did not even get off upon arrival, just switched sides of the train and rode it back to Keystone

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South of Custer, SD where we were staying at the KOA campground, is the city of Hot Springs.  It was a little like deja vu when we drove through Hot Springs on our way to Custer, it really reminded us of Hot Springs, Arkansas.  We walked down to visit the Hot Springs waterfall and the various structures along the way.

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 Mammoth Site was our next stop, I did not even know there was a site like that in the U.S.  After all of the walking we did, we stopped at a very nice restaurant, with great food and decent prices called Dale’s Family Restaurant. 

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We found another museum, the Pioneer Museum, which was a multi-story building with so many items from the Pioneer settlers.  It was mind boggling how much they had to view.  That ended our sight-seeing in Hot Springs and we drove through Wind Cave National Park to go to Hill City to view the Railroad Museum there.  

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On another day, we took a road trip through nearby towns.  We visited Deadwood, SD and stopped by the Adams Museum and then the Visitors Center that was in the old train depot.  We managed to drive down part of Historic main street that was not blocked off for a street concert.  Continuing our road trip, we drove down Hwy 14A and stopped at the Broken Boot Gold Mine to do some more panning for gold.  Our next stop was in Lead, SD, stopping at the Black Hills Mining Museum with more gold panning, but with more specific instructions and continued supervision.  We finished our road trip that day by driving down Hwy 85 through Newcastle, Wyoming, and then east toward Custer, SD.

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Buffaloes Everywhere

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The first thing that caught our attention when we drove through Custer, was the life-sized painted buffaloes.  You could see the buffaloes on almost every street corner.  This post is my way of highlighting this unique feature:


This red and yellow buffalo was actually at the Crazy Horse Museum.







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Northward Bound

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We always have a sense of anticipation as we plan and pack and then finally get to leave on our vacation.

Jeff is an excellent researcher on finding places to see while at our destination.  He also checks on the campgrounds to stay at along our journey, calculating the distance traveled each day.  We have found that a 6 hour day is optimum for us, though there are just times when a longer drive is necessary to complete the journey.

The distance from south Texas to South Dakota was going to be a long way for us, so we determined 3 days is all we wanted to be on the road going up.  Our first day ended in Oklahoma City. We were used to driving to north Texas in a day to visit my family, but felt we needed to put a little more distance in on this trip.  My Mom and Sister, Rose, were joining on this trip and it was still close enough for them to join us that evening.

After getting our camper set up, we drove around and found the Boom-A-Rang Diner in Choctaw, OK to eat supper.  The menu covered breakfast and supper items, it was delicious and reasonably priced with friendly service.  If you get in the area, you need to stop and have a bite to eat.

The next day was an even longer drive.  We were on the road for 11 hours before pulling into Gothenburg, Nebraska, traveling through Oklahoma, Kansas and halfway through Nebraska (going east to west).  It was very exhausting.      


            The Gothenburg KOA had some beautiful flowers throughout the grounds.    

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 We did stop at every State Welcome Center to pick up maps and take a break.  Rose and Mom drove at their own pace, stopping to sight-see and shopping…they caught up to us an hour or two later.  They managed to stop in at the Pony Express historical building in Gothenburg before arriving at the campsite.  Jeff and I made a point to stop by there the next morning before leaving town.  If you like history the way we do, it is a great place to visit.DSCF2747   DSCF2746DSCF2748   DSCF2749

Our final day on the road took 6 hours, with us arriving in Custer, SD at the Custer KOA at 4pm.

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We were able to see some buffalo and prairie dogs as we drove through Black Hills National Forest to reach our destination. It is hard to see the prairie dogs in the pictures I took.

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Happy to reach our destination, we drove through Custer and stopped to eat at the Cattleman’s Steak House.  It cost more than we had planned to spend, but the food was great!  

O Christmas Card

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NOTE:  This post is a duplicate of the post on my previous blog, SS Crafter.  I am now making the transition to post only on this blog.  Thank you for your understanding as I work through this process!

I am always looking for ways to motivate me to start making my Christmas cards early so that I am not mailing them out on Christmas Eve as I have done so many times in the past!  So as an incentive to start early, I asked my Sunday School class  in August if they would like to have a Christmas Card workshop to make cards.  They thought it would be a great idea, especially as a lot of them had never made their own cards.  We set up a date in November and so my task began.  I had two criteria in making card kits for the workshop…

              1. I wanted to use up my Christmas paper scraps and                                                                   2. I wanted them simple enough to make in bulk

My first stop was Pinterest.  Wow, there are a lot of talented people who love to share their ideas!!  I set up a Christmas Board to house my finds and if you would like to see it, you can find it here.

The trouble that I had was picking just a few cards to make, I think I ended up with about 10 different cards to make, more or less!!  I made around 20 kits per card to make sure the ladies could make more than one of the same card if they wanted.  Each card set was put in a sandwich baggy and all of them put in gallon zip lock bags with a sample.  I tried to stick with cards that used paper strips, but there were a few that I just could not resist that did not use strips.

A great benefit of making these kits up is I was able to make my cards from the leftover kits…a win – win for me.  This would be a great project to start now for next year.

All of the card bases are 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches.

Card #1:


 Black cardstock:   1 – 4.25″ x 5.5″                                                                                                                                2 – 1.25″ x 4.5″                                                                                                                                1 – 2.25″ x 5.25″                                                                                                                              1 – 4.25″ x width of sentiment plus .25″                                                            Christmas b&t:      1 – 4″ x 5.25″                                                                                                                                 2 – 1″ x 4.25″                                                                                                                                   1 – 2″ x 5″                                                                                                       White cardstock:   1 sentiment – 4″ x width of sentiment

Card #2:                                                


Christmas b&t:    4 – 1″ x 4″                                                                                                     Berry colored cardstock:  1.25″ x 4.25″

For this Poinsettia I used leaves cut out from red paper using my cricut.  For the kits, I used my spellbinder poinsettia die.  If you have a leaf punch, that would work also.  I used a stylus to add texture to the leaves and then arranged into the poinsettia shape.  I added bling for the center of the poinsettia.

Card #3 and #4:        


These 2 cards are made the same way, the only difference is the buckle and holly leaves.

          Red b&t:    4 – 1″ x 5″    Note:  I trimmed these strips a little bit to fit the paper                             Black or patterned paper:   1.25″ x 4.25″                                                                                       Card 3:    Silver metallic paper cut in square 1.5″ x 2″ or a punch for shape                                 Black cardstock:  1.25″ x 1.75″ (add inside silver for belt piece)

          Card 4:    Stamp and cut out or die cut holly leaves 3 – 5 as desired                                           Bling or punched circles for holly berries


Card #5:


            Blue b&t:     4″ x 5.25″                                                                                                                     White cardstock:   1 –  1 11/16″ circle                                                                                                                           1 –  1 1/4″ circle                                                                                                                             1 – 2″ circle                                                                                                                                     1 – oval for sentiment                                                                                       Brown cardstock:  MS branch punch – trimmed to twigs for hands                                               Orange cardstock:  small triangle for nose                                                                                     Black marker for eyes, mouth and buttons                                                                                     red ribbon                                                                                                                                       foam tape or pop dots to pop up the circle for the head to tie ribbon

             Note:  I used my cricut to multi cut the circles…much faster.

Card #6:


               Red cardstock:  4.25″ x 5.5″                                                                                                            White cardstock:  4″ x 5.25″  – embossed with Candy Cane embossing folder                              Christmas b&t:  1 – 1′ x 4″                                                                                                                                        1 – 1″ x 2.75″                                                                                                                                  1 – 1″ x 3.25″                                                                                                         White cardstock:  stamped with sentiment and punched                                                               Green cardstock:  option to punch MS branch punch with red bling

Card #7:  


               Green cardstock:  1 – 4.25″ x 5.5″                                                                                                                                1 – 3″ x 4.5″                                                                                                       White cardstock:  1 – 4″ x 5.25″ embossed with swiss dots embossing                                                                     folder                                                                                                                   1 – 2.75″ x 4.25″  embossed with Intricate swirl or preferred                                                                                     embossing folder                                                                                               1 – oval punched sentiment                                                                                                           Green ribbon

Card #8:  


                Red cardstock or b&t:  4.25″ x 5.5″ embossed with holly ribbon embossing                                                                            folder                                                                                                    White cardstock:    Option to stamp and punch the letters “J” “O” “Y”                                                                                      or chipboard letters                                                                              Poinsettia die cut or white leaves to make poinsettia  

Card #9:


               Green cardstock:  4.25″ x 5.5″                                                                                                                                      tag with white cardstock sentiment                                                                   White cardstock:  3.75″ x 5.25″ embossed with sheet music embossing                                                               folder cut into 3 strips about 1 1/8″ wide                                                                Green ribbon

Card #10:  


               Red cardstock:  4.25″ x 5.58″                                                                                                          White cardstock:  4″ x 5.25″ embossed with Lattice Squares embossing                                                                                   folder                                                                                                                                small tag with sentiment                                                                                   Christmas b&t:  1.5″ x 2″                                                                                                                                           1.5″ x 1.5″                                                                                                                                       1.75″ x 3″                                                                                                               Green cardstock:  scrap piece cut with decorative scissors                                                           Red Ribbon 

Products used on cards:

                Paper:  Close to My Heart, The Paper Studio, Michael’s                                                               Stamps anStamp Pads:  Close to My Heart                                                                                   Punches:  We R Memory Keepers, Martha Stewart, Stampin’ Up                                                 Embossing Folders:  Darice, Sizzix, Cuttlebug                                                                               Dies and Die Cuts:  Spellbinders, Cricut                                                                                         Ribbon:  Joann’s, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby                                                                                     Bling:  Want2Scrap

Road Trip – Homeward Bound!

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Getting back on the road, we drove through Maryland, West Virginia and made it to Wytheville, Virginia.  The next day had a destination of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  After arriving at the campground and setting up, we headed back out again to ride the Chattanooga Train.  We made it in time to ride the 2:25 train.  Continue reading

Our Adventures in Pennsylvania

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We stayed in two different KOA’s while in Pennsylvania.  The first one was in Jonestown and the KOA had a overall camp store that was used by the residents of Jonestown, as much as the campers.  It is a small town that had a National Park to the west with trails to walk and a river that flows right beside the campground.  The countryside is beautiful and as seems common in Pennsylvania the country roads wind around from town to town.  The interstate is a more direct road and that is what we took to Hershey, PA.  Our first stop was Hershey’s Chocolate World. Continue reading

I {heart} New York

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My Sister, Debbie, had not seen our fifth wheel, so before we pulled out, Debbie and the girls stopped by to have a look at it.  We always like showing off our camper, in the 2 years we have had it, we have covered a lot of miles in it and it still looks nice.  After tearful goodbyes, we pulled out for the next part of our journey. Continue reading

Green and White Mountains

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If you ever have a trivia question on what Vermont means, your answer should be “Green Mountain.” The French word “Ver” means green and “mont” means mount or mountain, thus “Green Mountain.”  This tidbit of information came to us while aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen on Lake Champlain…but more on that part of our trip later. Continue reading

Oh, Canada!!

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Did I mention trauma?  The day started out well, no rain and we were able to get on the road by 10:20 am.  We even got to eat breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, my favorite restaurant!!  After entering New York, we stopped at the I-90 Travel Center – Angola for gas and a bathroom break.  On a side note, I have to say that the travel centers on the toll roads in New York are some of the nicest places to stop…they are like a tourist destination of their own, with souvenirs, nice food area, clean bathrooms, nice people to help you with destination questions, one place we stopped at even had some fresh fruit to buy. Continue reading